The Pasilla chili is one of the most well-known of the dried Mexican family. The name literally translates to ‘little raisin‘ which can seem a little strange given its considerable length. It seems a lot more fitting a name when you take appearance and taste into consideration. It's deep black color and wrinkly exterior certainly is in line however and the sweeter notes of berries to the taste buds is as well.
The traditional Pasilla, sometimes also known as Chili Negro or Pasilla Mexicano, comes from the Chilaca peppers. When fresh they feature a nice thick flesh and a textural bite with a lot of sweetness. Those same traits carry over to the dried Pasilla chili. The sweet notes become almost as an intense berry, whilst the thick flesh gives a nice full-bodied experience even when dried. Most often used in cooking sauces, the Pasilla is perhaps best known for the role it plays in the cooking of Mole sauces.
Aromatically it has tones of dark, smoky chocolate – without having undergone the actual process of smoking. The encapsulation of flavors that happens when drying the chilies, in this case, results in a multitude of rich, darker flavors.
The Pasilla Mixe or "Pasilla Oaxaqueño" are related, but not quite the same. Here the fresh chilies are from a slightly different variety and the process involves smoking. These pasillas have more in common with the chipotles of the world than traditional pasillas.